January 30, 2009 Comments
A special thanks to WebProNews for covering Small Business Marketing Unleashed. The following is their description and video:
Since the advent of the Internet, small businesses have been forced to change their marketing strategies to a global level. In an interview with Mike McDonald at SBMU Columbus, Tyler Garns of InfusionSoft explains how their company lets small businesses know there are other options available beyond email marketing. Tyler encourages small businesses to dig a little deeper and try incorporating multimedia and follow up marketing for better results.
October 29, 2008 Comments
Having been caught up in the planning stages of the next SBMU, I realized I forgot to share Sage's Building a Community workshop video with you all.
Here's a real-time example of how easy it is to shoot your own video, make friends and have fun.
You could be there too!
Hope to see you all in Houston, TX spring 2009.
October 16, 2008 Comments
Woot! Woot! This is just some of the fun we have at Small Business Marketing Unleashed. Thanks to COSI - Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, OH for making our Charity Speed Networking Unleashed event so great, and thanks to Sage Lewis and Tyler S. Clark for doing an amazing job creating SBMU out of the giant erector set!
August 7, 2008 Comments
Ever since we decided to do a fall SBMU in Columbus, Jennifer and I have been putting some serious miles on our local networking pedomenters. Who knew our own backyard was so big!?
We've spent so much time traveling and speaking (if you're Jen) in other states for other conferences, that we never took the time to truly invest in "our own" as some would say. I can honestly say we've been pleasantly surprised by the depth of what we found and the warm reception we've received into the online Columbus community.
After the OWL, Ohio Web Leaders , conference a few months ago, we realized how vibrant the social media and online marketing communities were here in our little "cow town". It didn't take long for Jen to dig in with her social media skills and organize the first Columbus Tweetup . A small but super-friendly group of Columbus tweeters gathered for some of the best BBQ in Columbus at the Pig Iron. Not only are several of these individuals attending SBMU now, but they are people I am quickly beginning to call friends.
The Domino Effect and Why People Matter
As Jennifer has been working her online, miracle marketing mojo, I've been treading in some slightly more traditional waters. I have joined two local networking groups. The first traditional networking event I attended was through the CYP, Columbus Young Professionals club. They hosted a speed networking "breakfast" (which consisted of some Tim Horton's doughnuts and weak coffee), but nonetheless, I felt overly compelled to check out the event seeing how we host our own Speed Networking Event.
Despite the early morning rise time, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the CYP event and met the person who led me to my second networking group. Darrah Courter of ADM Benefits invited me to attend a local small business meeting called The Positive Connections Business Network. Well, let's just say, I had a thoroughly positive experience at the meeting. I was impressed with the way Randy and Kim Daniels conducted the meeting and held true to their mission statement.
You see, people have always been a priority for me. I don't have an obsessive personality, and I don't tend to get overly excited about things, but I do, however, get excited about people. And isn't that what networking is really all about?
After meeting Randy at the Positive Connections meeting, he invited me to an AmSpirit meeting, which is a pay-to-join professional networking group, and Darrah invited me to yet another group focused on women in business called Dames Bond.
I don't mention these things merely to create a list of the events I've attended. I am trying to portray the domino effect that occurs just from putting yourself out there and attempting to meet new people. It's very easy to sit behind our computer screens and "connect" with people all over the world, but there is still real value to be had in the traditional types of networking.
As a side note, I do want to personally thank all the people and groups who have opened their arms to the Search Engine Guide girls, welcoming us so warmly.
June 16, 2008 Comments
We're always looking out for you guys. (Which is not to be confused with always looking at you guys...a slightly creepy and very stalkerish thing to do...we're not stalkers...we just care...honest!)
Since we're always looking out for you guys, I wanted to share the email advisory I just received from Travelocity about an airfare sale in and out of Columbus. Since I know we've got some folks coming in from around the country (and or trying to budget to come in) I thought I'd pass the tip along your way.
Some sample round trip fares:
Baltimore, MD - $105
Birmingham, AL - $147 (that's for you Mack!)
Chicago, IL - $103
Dallas, TX - $225
Des Moines, IA - $175
Ft. Lauderdale, FL - $175
Kansas City, MO - $145
Little Rock, AR - $211
Los Angeles, CA - $191
Milwaukee, WI - $152
Nashville, TN - $111
Oklahoma City, OK - $245
Philadelphia, PA - $105
Phoenix, AZ - $185
Seattle, WA - $165
Check out the full list and get your flight booked.
I don't know how long these price will last, so you might want to jump on them quickly.
June 9, 2008 Comments
You may have heard the saying "The devil is in the details." It points out the importance of looking after all the little behind the scene items that can make an undertaking run smoothly or seem like a bad thrill ride. Conferences have more details than you can shake a stick at. Paying attention to all those details makes your conference run smoothly and lets folks know that you really are glad they came.
Last summer, Jennifer and Robert at Search Engine Guide thought the time had come for a new kind of conference for the small business owner--- a fun kind of conference where folks would learn a bunch of stuff they could really apply to their business operations.
However, both Jennifer and Robert work long and hard keeping the new and relevant information about all things web related on it's way to their readers. And if there is one thing a conference needs, it is someone to look after the details. Jennifer said " I know great speakers to invite and great topics to cover but when, where and how will we do this?
With 20 years of experience planning a major national junior camp and a dozen or more community Vacation Bible Schools, I knew the details could make or break your event, and I also knew I loved looking after the details. The volunteer in me shouted out "I will be glad to help you find those things, do cost estimates, keep track of the details if you would like the help" And BAM!! I became the Director of Events for Search Engine Guide.
Some of the details are important but pretty mundane, like what printer shall we use and do we have the logos for our event sponsors.Some of the details are a ton of fun, like going to check out the Gadgets Exhibit at COSI for the Charity Networking Event.
Or, having a taste testing at Polaris Grill to select lunch and supper menus for the conference.Now that was a sacrifice for me, Jennifer, Rachel, but we worked long and hard for your benefit, and I know you will all love the food options. The Polaris Grill will also be the site of our Networking Dinner on Monday evening.
As Director of Events, I have an opportunity to meet some great folks, both conference attendees and conference speakers.I am learning things every day. Even though I don't Twitter , I know what Twitter is ---even Plurk! I am even learning to blog!You can look after the details without really knowing about the content of the event you are working on. But learning new things has been easy, fun and exciting. I found that I can do this even if I'm not 25 any more!
June 4, 2008 Comments
Oh schwag, how I love thee! OK, so I don't really love all schwag, just really fun or really practical schwag, but before I cite the reasons for my excitement, allow me to back up a bit. I don't want to assume that everyone knows what this odd sounding word means. It wasn't too long ago I was in the dark myself, so I'll explain.
According to the Promosapien website, "the term schwag refers to all manner of logoed stuff given away by companies to get people to remember them, feel good about them, have their phone number and website at hand and generally make them think about them before any of their competitors." Schwag has become standard fair for pretty much every conference, trade show or corporate affair. Companies are not only expected to bring schwag, but there is an unspoken competition amongst them over who delivers the best, the coolest giveaways.
A BRIEF HISTORY LESSON
There are those that believe schwag can be dated back to the medieval times when "armor makers gave out free, name-engraved wooden pegs so customers could hang up their goods." (courtesy of Promosapien). I don't know how practical engraved wooden pegs would be these days, unless you're Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I do know what comes in handy for MY everyday life, which leads me to the source of my excitement.
Our spring Small Business Marketing Unleashed in Houston, TX delivered lots of fun and useful schwag. Items ranged from mini sharpies and bounceable silly putty to t-shirts and buttons. My all-time favorite piece was the reusable grocery bags brought by Will Scott of Search Influence, one of our first and repeat sponsors. After months of utilization and a recent trip to Trader Joe's, I finally remembered to take a picture of my handy new bags. The soft but durable material can easily be folded down into glove-box size measurements, and the handles are the perfect length for carrying on you shoulder. This is a huge help when you've got heavy items and still need your hands free.
FUN FOR THE FUTURE
As you can see, I'm very fond of my reusable grocery bags, but I'm also anxious to see whatour fall SBMU is going to produce in terms of schwag. The bar has been set high, but I firmly believe those involved with the September Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference will rise to the challenge!
Gotten any really cool schwag lately? Leave a comment and tell us about it or shoot me an email. We'd love to see what's out there.
Oh, and here's a fun little fact for any other word nerds out there; schwag was originally spelled SWAG, which stood for Stuff We All Get.
June 4, 2008 Comments
Live in the Columbus, Ohio area already and want to meet some other local tech types? We're with you! In fact, we've been thrilled to find out there's a vibrant and savvy community of Ohio Twitter users and realized it was about time we got to know them!
Thanks to a debate over the best BBQ in town and a suggestion from @ckeithley, we've decided to go ahead and organize a Columbus Tweetup.
Here's the details:
When: Friday, June 13th @11:30am.
Where: Pig Iron BBQ - 5295 N High St.
RSVP: by sending a message to @jenniferlaycock
I'll call ahead and see about arranging for some seating.
Looking forward to meeting you all!
ETA: Just to make it fun, let's keep tabs on who is showing up.
June 4, 2008 Comments
One of the things we've worked hard at with Small Business Marketing Unleashed is fostering an environment that is fun, friendly and open. While our speakers and staff are professionals in every sense of the word, they're also a load of fun. Even better, they're approachable.
Our speaking spots are "invite only." You can't pitch to join our team, you have to be asked. I have three criteria I keep in mind when picking team members.
1.) They have to know their topic inside and out.
2.) They should be able to explain their topic to their mother's without blowing their mind.
3.) They HAVE to be approachable.
Now, it's easy for me to say that...doesn't really mean you're going to believe me.
So, I'm going to be posting some video to the blog every now and then to prove just how "down to earth" our team is. You can't possibly watch these videos and not feel like you can approach people when they're done. ;)
First up is our dynamic duo. Rachel Phillips, our Business Develoment Manager and Stoney deGeyter, a speaker and our Associate Editor over at Search Engine Guide. I shot this video on a Monday night when some folks from the show were hanging out playing pool. (It also proves why you don't mess with Rachel.)
June 4, 2008 Comments
At the first Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference in Houston, we didn't really have a keynote. Instead, we opened up day one with a bit of a mish-mash from our speakers to try and set the tone for the attitude the attendees should take into the show. Matt Bailey, Wendy Piersall, Matt McGee and myself each spent a few minutes talking about "common sense" online marketing. The idea of learning what you need to know and realizing that you don't have to be an expert at online marketing to see dramatic improvement. The goal was to remind attendees that what we were about to teach them isn't rocket science, but it does require a lot of thought and time to implement.
I walked away from that show feeling like we'd done a nice job of setting the stage, but that we hadn't really capped it off in the right way. I saw so much excitement and passion flowing through the crowd by the time we parted ways on Tuesday, but it made me wonder if we might have set folks up with the passion, without giving them a reminder of the need to run their business as well. After all, anyone who has spent time blogging or Twittering knows how quickly these things can turn into a time sink. They're far more fun than filling out payroll or closing a deal with your next client.
While it's true that online marketing is essential to every small business, it's also true that small businesses have to learn how to walk that fine line of when to market and when to do "business stuff."
That's why I was thrilled to be able to talk Anita Campbell into coming on board for our fall show to do a Tuesday morning keynote. Anita joined us for our first show back in Houston and despite years of email back and forth, it was the first time anyone on our team had met her. (Funny, since she only lives about an hour and a half away from me.) We've been long time fans of Anita's great Small Business Trends site and her radio show.
On top of that, Anita has an amazingly diverse background that makes her uniquely qualified to address these issues for our readers. She's been a c-level exec at a big company and she's been the CEO of her own start-up. She's worked in banking, technology, human resources and marketing. She's about as well-rounded as they come.
Wondering what Anita will be talking about? Here's a snippet from my Small Business Marketing Unleashed keynote announcement post over at Search Engine Guide.
Marketing Mania: Driving Business without Driving Yourself CrazyAnita Campbell...yet another great reason to join us in Columbus, Ohio on September 22nd and 23rd.
Anita's keynote will focus on one of the key points of learning to market as a small business: balancing running your business with promoting it. Since more than half of our attendees came from true small businesses (less than ten employees) we recognize that many of them are faced with the daily challenge of actually running the company. They don't have marketing departments, they ARE the marketing department.
That can make it tough to keep your focus. How do you decide how much value you're getting from your marketing efforts and where do you draw the line on when blogging should give way to picking a new hire or cutting checks to suppliers? How do you avoid getting caught up in the fun that is Twitter and Linked In and Facebook and maximize your time to get it all done?
Honestly? We don't know the answer. That's why we've asked Anita to come and enlighten us (and of course, you!) She'll help us all gain some perspective on the best ways to maximize our marketing efforts while still leaving yourself time to focus on the things we do best; run our businesses!